What makes you a Christian is whether or not you really are in accord with biblical theology and whether you know Jesus Christ as your Savior. Walter Martin
Sometimes I wonder what happened to honest, true biblical theology. In society today there are all types of theology. Even in the Christian community there are several types of theology. Basically what happens is someone takes a point of view, searches for scriptures to support that point of view and then they have a “theology”. A few types of theology are … fundamentalist, mainstream, King James only, gay, feminist, Red Letter, etc. The troubling part about this is while in the Christian church we need to celebrate diversity with the love of Christ; many times these differing theologies create a wider division rather than creating a harmonious, loving community. In doing so each subset often implies they have a better understanding or a clearer revelation of the truth of scripture.
This creates a huge problem. First, we as mere humans are trying to interpret and know the meaning and mind of an omnipotent, all-consuming, all loving God. Second, each and every interpretation of the bible has to be read with the knowledge that the individual interpreting the Bible, at best, was biased by their own person experience. There are meanings to certain words in the Bible that not even the most learned theologians agree.
Salvation, the very root of Christianity, is one such theological sticking point. What exactly must one do to be saved? It is amazing to me that such a simple question can get so muddied in translation. The Bible clearly states in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 10:9 is very similar “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Christianity is the only religion I know of where you are saved or redeemed prior to and regardless of performance.
The bottom line is God demands 100% faultless, perfect obedience. If you can’t do that, you’d better find Someone who can do it for you. Consequently, God sent Christ as the perfect and powerful Savior we so desperately needed. An individual, ANY individual, who accepts Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross as sufficient and total is adopted into God’s family. End of story.
Many Christian communities insist on adding to the requirements for salvation. One of the hottest topics and most sensitive issues we face today is that of gay Christians. How many times have you heard God hates gay people? Gays are not going to heaven. Gays are an abomination and beyond redemption. There is no such thing as a “gay” Christian? Being “gay” is proof positive God has turned his back on and given up on an individual.
Some are a little more compassionate and say you can be “gay” before your relationship with Christ began, but once you are saved you can no longer be gay. Their theology will say if you remain gay after salvation you are not really saved and are bound for hell. There is even disagreement and division within the gay Christian community about whether or not it is required for a gay person to be celibate in order to go to heaven.
The terrifying danger of what is being taught is the adulteration of the message of Christ substitutionary work on the cross. If ANYTHING is required in addition to Christ’s death on the cross for salvation, then what we are saying and believing is that Christ’s death on the cross is NOT sufficient. Think about it, if Christ’s work on the cross is not enough, if it is not the sole means by which to obtain salvation, then Christianity is a fraud.
Some will disagree vehemently with what I am about to say, but anything short of you denouncing Christ as your Savior; cannot “void” the salvation contract. In short, heaven will be chocked full of people no one expected to see there. A more disconcerting truth is heaven will be filled with people some Christian “theology” aggressively rejects.
Of course there is more to the Christian life than salvation. There is discipleship, justification, sanctification, faith, grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, being molded and changed into the likeness of Christ … But all of this BEGINS with salvation. The problem is many people do not move into the Christian life because they are discouraged from becoming “saved” in the first place. Once a person allows Christ into their lives and heart; God can then go to work and do as He pleases. He can make any changes He wants to make, transform and revitalize lives and hearts as He sees fit. Not make the changes we as Christians believe He should.
Ask yourself, has anything of eternal value ever been accomplished by a theology of exclusion? Has any amount of demeaning, picketing, protesting, yelling or being hurtful ever saved a single soul? Are we being more like Jesus when we as a Christian community do those things? And if not, why are we doing them?
As a church community we MUST stop excluding people from heaven by teaching salvation is not equally available to all. As a church community we owe an apology to the individuals we push out and force to live in the margins of the faith community by trying to steal away or discount the authenticity of their relationship with Christ. We owe an apology to those individuals who have to fight and are made to feel uncomfortable for simply trying to find a place to worship; trying to find a faith community to which to belong. We owe an apology to those individuals who in an act of total despair and hopelessness, directly related to what we told them, have turned to addiction, or worse suicide. We owe an apology to the family members and friends of those who we marginalized for our lack of compassion and understanding toward them. Most importantly, we need to repent to God for diluting the sacrifice of His only Son on the cross.
It is amazing the Christian community is unwittingly playing directly in to the hands of Satan by destroying itself from the inside out. By beating, bludgeoning and battering each other with the Word of God, we are doing his job for him. I think it is time the church started to further the kingdom of Heaven rather than the kingdom of darkness. How about you?